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Retired teacher on sexual assault charge says he can’t get a solicitor to represent him

The Law Society is to be asked to intervene to get the accused legal representation

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Patrick Curran. Pic: Paul Deering

Patrick Curran. Pic: Paul Deering

Patrick Curran. Pic: Paul Deering

sligochampion

A 76 year old retired school teacher charged with the sexual assault of a pupil in the early 1990s told Sligo Circuit Court this morning that he could not get a solicitor to represent him.

Patrick Curran of Sheshkin Beg, Derrybeg, County Donegal was told to write to the Incorporated Law Society of Ireland to request its help in finding him legal representation by Judge Frances Comerford.

The Judge also directed that the Courts Service Office in Sligo write to the Law Society seeking its assistance also in the appointment of a solicitor to represent Curran.

The accused had initially appeared before the court last November for sentencing on one count of sexually assaulting the pupil on a date between October 1st 1993 and June 1st 1994 at St John’s National School, Temple Street, Sligo having pleaded guilty at a sitting of the court

last June.

However, Curran has told the court that he wishes to resile from his

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guilty plea. Curran confirmed this was his position when asked by the Judge who had pointed out to the accused that his application to be allowed change his plea was a very solemn one and that he would have to establish legal grounds why he wants to change his plea from guilty to not guilty. His legal team came off record and the case was adjourned to today’s sitting of the court.

Curran had been directed by Judge Comerford to file an affidavit setting out the legal grounds why he wished to change his plea by December 20th.

This morning, Curran, who was not legally represented, was told by Judge Comerford that his guilty plea still stood.

Curran stated that he appeared at the offices of the Court Service on December 20th with an affidavit in written form but it was not accepted.

Mr Leo Mulrooney BL (prosecuting) stated he had sight of the document and the fact it wasn’t sworn was probably the reason it wasn’t accepted.

Curran stated he had brought it to a solicitor but he wouldn’t sign it. The documents, described as letters in court, were handed in to the Judge.

Judge Comerford emphasised to Curran that it was up to him to bring an application to try to satisfy him to allow him change his plea.

The Judge said the letters handed in to court related to circumstances surrounding this and other cases and did not address the issue of his wishing to change his plea. 

Curran was advised to instruct a solicitor but he said he had tried but couldn’t find one anywhere. He had tried eight solicitors but to no avail.

"All I can do is to advise you to make efforts to get a lawyer,” said Judge Comerford who said he was fixing February 2nd next to hear the application and he would take evidence orally if that was necessary in the absence of a sworn affidavit. 

"It’s up to you to put forward grounds to satisfy me to set aside the guilty plea you entered. You need to go a get a lawyer and if not, on the 2nd of February you go into the witness box and give me evidence,” said the Judge, adding “these are not evidence” referring to the letters handed in to him by Curran.

The Judge also stated he could see why a solicitor would not sign the documents.

Judge Comerford suggested to Curran that he write to the Incorporated Law Society of Ireland in Dublin setting out that he had difficulty in getting a solicitor to act for him in this matter.

The Judge directed the Courts Service in Sligo to also write asking the Law Society to nominate a solicitor to represent Curran. The case was adjourned to February 2nd.


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